Digital Decorating:

Keys for Clean, Protected Heat Press Platens

By Ben Robinson, Contributing Writer

November 3, 2014

Nothing lasts forever, but the better you take care of your heat press, the longer you can avoid a breakdown.  

One of the most important tasks to do regularly is thoroughly clean your press’s upper and the lower platens. They should be kept free of not only dust or dirt, but also adhesive residue and ink.

Once something gets on a platen, ongoing exposure to high heat usually means it won’t take long before it really adheres and can become very difficult to remove. Platens are best cleaned using a soft cloth (like an old T-shirt, for instance) and a glass or surface cleaner. Light soapy water also can be used, but do not use anything with abrasive grit in it. This will damage the platen’s surface.

A great way to keep platens free of unwanted contaminants — as well as protect them from scratches caused by buckles and zippers — is to use upper and lower heat platen protectors. These are available in a variety of sizes and are treated with a non-stick surface coating.

This slippery surface makes it easy to slide garments around when positioning. It also prohibits adhesive or ink from sticking to its surface. Platen protectors are easier to wipe off than a bare platen and, if some type of mishap occurs, it only costs about $30 to replace a platen cover. Alternatively, it costs about $300 to replace a platen.

With the increased use of heat presses for curing sublimation and digital direct-to-garment prints, heat platen covers have become a necessity. Both of these processes result in a lot of gassing and residue, which you don’t want to get directly onto the machine.

Ben Robinson is general manager of Hotronix, Carmichaels, Pa. For more information or to comment on this article, email Ben at

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